A Detroit teacher has won the 2015 Educator of the Year award and a $10,000 prize from the Michigan Lottery’s Excellence in Education program, the Lottery announced today.
The award winner, Michael Craig, is a special education teacher at the Charles Drew Transition Center. The school is part of the Detroit Public Schools district and serves about 600 young adults with special needs.
Craig is known for helping students develop functional skills through a horticulture program that contributes produce to the school cafeteria and also offers produce and fresh flowers for sale to parents and the local community at a school farm market.
Tom Izzo, the Michigan State University men’s basketball coach, presented the Educator of the Year trophy and a $10,000 check to Craig during a surprise event today at the Charles Drew Transition Center. About 40 colleagues, friends, and family members looked on as a stunned Craig accepted the check and a trophy.
Craig, who was clearly moved, said even though he received the award, the entire Charles Drew Transition Center faculty and staff deserved credit. “It’s not only me. It’s everyone here,” he said, gesturing to those in the crowded school auditorium.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for the students, he added. “For our students, this school and its programs give them a chance to have a life outside of school. We all have a vested interest in this city and trying to make it better. That’s our goal.”
Principal Robert Avedisian described Craig as “a teacher who has a vision and then puts an action plan in place to achieve it. He is able to reach all students regardless of their disabilities. Mr. Craig can stand proud because he has made a difference in the lives of our students. All of the teachers at the Charles Drew Transition Center do phenomenal work with students. This award for Michael Craig demonstrates that great things are happening at the Charles Drew Transition Center and the Detroit Public Schools.”
Clara Flowers, assistant superintendent of the Office of Specialized Student Services, congratulated Craig on winning the award. “The Detroit Public Schools district is extremely proud of Michael Craig. He is a creative teacher who cares about his students and their success,” she said. “He provides our special education students of all disabilities with differentiated hands on – and minds on – lessons each day to provide them with an authentic learning experience.”
The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards last year to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state. More than 500 educators from across the state were nominated and 34, including Craig, were selected to win a weekly award during the school year.
Winners of the weekly award received a plaque, a $500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or school district as well as the opportunity to be selected to receive the Educator of the Year award and its $10,000 cash prize.
Each winner also was featured in a news segment on the Lottery’s media partner stations: WXYZ-TV in Detroit, FOX 17 in Grand Rapids, and FOX 47 in Lansing.
For the Excellence in Education program, the Lottery teamed up Izzo, who also met with the weekly award winners at the Breslin Center and presented them with their awards.
Craig has been an educator for 19 years, the last four at the Charles Drew Transition Center. He earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Eastern Michigan University and master of arts degree in educational administration from Wayne State University. He also holds additional certification in cognitive impairments education from Eastern Michigan University.
He was nominated for the Excellence in Education award by a colleague who wrote that Craig “sets the tone for our school with his professionalism, personal interest in the development of all students, and in his innovation and dedication to bringing the very best of instructional diversity in leading students to obtain knowledge and skill.”
The nomination period for the 2015-16 Excellence in Education program will open late this summer.
Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award through the Michigan Lottery website, www.MichiganLottery.com, or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.
Excellence in Education award nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Excellence – Their work consistently helps students and/or their schools or school districts advance to higher levels of academic achievement.
- Dedication – They consistently go above and beyond expectations to help students succeed.
- Inspiration – Their work inspires others around them to exceed expectations either academically or professionally.
- Leadership – They demonstrate clear leadership skills in their positions with their school or school districts
- Effectiveness – The nominee’s work has clear and positive results on the educational advancement of students within the school or school district.